Born in the Basque region of France, the sisters Katia and Marielle Labèque were initially taught by their mother, Italian pianist Ada Cecchi, who herself had been a pupil of the virtuoso Marguerite Long, a friend of Ravel. They went on to study at the Paris Conservatoire with Lucette Descaves and Jean Hubeau and soon formed a piano duo devoted to the classical repertoire from Bach to Brahms, as well as to music by Gersh-win and Bernstein, contemporary works, and interdisciplinary projects. Especially definitive for their understanding of music was the duo’s encounter with Luciano Berio, who encouraged them to keep an open mind for all styles and eras. Their career has led Katia and Marielle Labèque to work with the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the Staatskapelle Dresden, the London Philharmonic, and the London Symphony Orchestra, as well as with the leading American ensembles. Katia and Marielle Labèque have performed under the direction of Semyon Bychkov, Colin Davis, Zubin Mehta, Seiji Ozawa, Simon Rattle, Esa-Pekka Salonen, and Michael Tilson Thomas. They have additionally appeared with such specialist ensembles devoted to historically informed performance as the English Baroque Soloists, Musica Antiqua Köln, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and Il Giardino Armonico. One of their first recordings, which included Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, immediately became a gold record; in the meantime the duo founded their own label, KML Records. Moreover, in 2005 they established the Fondazione Katia & Marielle Labèque, which is dedicated to exploring and promoting the literature for piano duo as well as to fostering interconnections among the various arts.
LUCERNE FESTIVAL (IMF) debut on 21 November 1998 in a program of works by Brahms, Schubert, Debussy, and Tchaikovsky.